The Toronto Raptors are going to the Eastern Conference finals for just the second time in franchise history, and they got there in the most unique of circumstances.
With the seconds ticking down in Game 7 of their second-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers, the score was tied at 90-90 and Kawhi Leonard had the ball in his hands. He got forced to the corner and put up a high-arching fadeaway that looked like an awful shot at first, but somehow fell through the net after bouncing on the rim four times.
Leonard's shot was the first Game 7 buzzer beater in NBA history, and the second series-winning shot of this season's playoffs, along with Damian Lillard's Game 5 buzzer beater in the first round to send home the Thunder. But while Leonard's shot was remarkable, his reaction may be just as noteworthy.
OK, fine, the shot was more notable, but still, Leonard's ecstatic reaction was still pretty cool. He's made quite a name for himself as the most stoic, no-nonsense player in the league, but even he couldn't contain his emotions at that moment.
Crouching down in the corner as he waited to see which way the ball would bounce on the rim, he leaped up into the arms of his teammates and let out a scream once it went in.
Kawhi’s reaction to his game-winner is priceless pic.twitter.com/fSS9WWI88y— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 13, 2019
Somehow, of the two players to hit series-winning shots in this season's playoffs, Leonard was the more excited. While he was screaming along with his teammates, Lillard stared coldly into the camera.
I love the NBA playoffs. pic.twitter.com/HkK9PxAzo9— Will Manso (@WillManso) May 13, 2019
And Leonard was so happy with the win that he even broke out a rare smile well after the initial celebrations were over.
Yelling and smiling in joy is the reaction you would expect from any player who hit a shot as Leonard did, but it's rare to see such emotion from the Raptors star. In a way, it made the moment even more special, just to see how much it meant to Leonard.